Thursday, December 8, 2011

6 Great Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

There are hundreds of ways to get customers to your business' website. So I tried to narrow it down to just a few (not an easy task). Without further ado, here are six great ways to generate more visitors to your site:

1. SEO (search engine optimization)

Make sure your website copy has targeted keywords. Use Google to do some keyword research. Which are the most frequently searched? Which are the best suited to use on your website? Then, sprinkle those keywords throughout the site's copy. If you're not a SEO pro, that's no problem. There are plenty of easy-to-follow instructions online. Plus, there are plenty of web copywriters that specialize in creating website content that is optimized for SEO.

2. Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Digg -- select 3-4 social media sites to focus you're efforts on. Then, create a strategy. Determine which ones you will participate, how often and how you will track your success. It's not hard, but it does take time. However, if you're consistent, the fruits of your labor will pay off for your business.

3. E-mail Newsletter

Keeping in touch with your customers with an e-mail newsletter is great way to let them when you have new products, offerings, if you've won an award, or other items of interest. Consistency and strong content are key. With sites such as Constant Contact and Vertical Response, creating, sending and tracking your e-mail newsletter is a breeze.

4. Use Your URL Everywhere

From your e-mail signature to business cards, stationery and invoices -- you should include your website URL on everything. The more exposure you get, the more opportunities for customers to check out your site. It's simple, cost-effective and something you can begin doing immediately.

5. Submit to Major Search Engines

Build it and they will come. Not likely when you figure that your website is competing with millions of others. Be sure to submit your site to the major search engines, such as MSN, Yahoo and Google. It's not a complicated process, it just takes a little bit of time. Then, at least quarterly, check to make sure that your site still showing up during searches.

6. Create a Blog

Having a blog associated with your website is a great way to generate content. It also builds credibility for you and your business since the topics covered by your blog should be issues important to your customers. Be sure to regularly post by creating an editorial calendar. While you don't need to post everyday, having a consistent plan with quality content will ensure your blog's success.

I'm sure there are many other ways to drive website traffic. Have a tip that has worked especially well for you and your business? Feel free to share it here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Did You Know That PR Does Not Guarantee Customers or Exposure?

What Small Businesses Need to Know About PR

Public relations (PR) is a great way for small businesses to get exposure to customers as well as to establish credibility. PR is crucial for small business success, but it's important to note that generating media exposure takes time and effort.

The best way to explain the difference between PR (third party credibility) versus advertising (paid placement) is to use a garden as a metaphor.

Press releases, interviews, media events and newsworthy promotions all play a part in public relations for small businesses. PR must be regularly addressed in order to gain traction. To get started, create a plan. Outline what the next 3 to 6 months may look like or ambitiously plot out an entire year. Brainstorm with colleagues, customers or even family and friends. PR is not a one-time and done notion. Plant the seeds and keep planting them. It could take a good amount of time and effort before the hard work is rewarded.

Follow up with reporters, talk to customers, refine products and services in order to generate PR. PR must be a constant. It doesn't need to take up a lot of time, but it does need time dedicated to it in order to see results.

Giving the time and attention necessary will enable small business owners to reap the rewards. Establishing relationships with journalists takes time. Developing interesting and creative events takes careful thought and planning. However, the more dedicated a business owner is to his or her PR efforts, the better the rewards.

Don't stop there! Once the PR ball is rolling, keep the efforts going. Build off the momentum. Soon, reporters will be seeking experts and will begin calling upon your small business expertise.

What's your PR experience been? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?